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June 2023
Lafayette Master Plan Community Meeting: June 2, 2023

This meeting included comments from Lafayette College President Nicole Hurd and a presentation by Lauren Leighty, a planner for the College’s planning consultant, the SmithGroup. It was attended by several dozen Easton residents. Because of the number of topics discussed (and for the benefit of those who do not wish to immerse themselves in a fairly lengthy account of all that went on), we’ll start with a summary of the main topics.


More related to the Master Plan can be found on the Lafayette website at:



Dr. Hurd opened the meeting with an apology for the clearing of trees above College Avenue. She said the College is “committed to reforestation” with non-invasive species. (See below for before-and-after photos and extended discussion).

A related topic dealt with the College’s plan (also in the Master Plan) to install lighting on the now-cleared hillside, in the form of path lighting for safety and security as well as signage to identify the College. As described below, residents were generally in favor of the former and opposed to the latter.

Ms. Leighty reviewed the Master Plan findings to date, most of which were contained in the March 2023 ‘Findings and Observations’ report, also posted on this website. The timeline for the completion of the Master Plan has been moved back from the end of 2023 to mid-2024.

Resident comments included the importance of historic preservation, traffic concerns on Cattell Street (and how it might be impacted by further Lafayette development of Metzgar Field), concern about proposed College lighting of the College Avenue hillside, development of College properties on South Campus and Bushkill Drive, etc.

Both Dr. Hurd and Ms. Leighty emphasized that resident concerns and input will be incorporated into future Master Plan studies.


Meeting Notes  (In most cases, speakers from the audience will be identified as ‘resident’ except when their position is relevant to their comment.)


College Avenue tree clearing.

  • Although this topic was not strictly speaking part of the Master Plan conversation, it dominated much of the discussion. Dr. Hurd began the meeting by apologizing for the extent of the removal. Many of the 40 or so cleared trees were NOT part of the project to rebuild the hillside steps and to create a trail connecting the campus to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail.

  • The College is “committed” to reforesting the hillside. It is working with the City Forester, and will replant more than 90 trees, some on the hillside, others around the City.

  • In the future, the College will consult with experts from its own geology and biology departments before doing anything further of this sort.

  • Dr. Hurd said that the cleared trees were dead or diseased. A resident doubted that all the dead or diseased trees were located in a straight line.

  • Dr. Hurd noted that some of the cleared trees were invasive species; all replanted trees will be non-invasive species.

  • Resident and preservation-planner Tom Jones noted that many historic items were destroyed in the hillside clearance but there is still an opportunity to develop a presentation plan. (When Mr. Jones brought this topic up near the end of the meeting, Dr. Hurd asked if she could meet privately with him to discuss the matter further.)

  • State Representative Robert Freeman noted that ‘shade is an important consideration’ for people walking up the hillside. He urged the College to ‘please continue the dialogue’ before proceeding.


Lighting the hillside

  • The Master Plan presentation showed that the College is concerned with visitors being able to find the campus, and is preparing a signage program to deal with this. One of the proposed sign locations seemed to be at the top of the hillside where the trees have been cleared.

  • A resident said that there has been a rumor that the College is planning to erect on large backlit ‘Lafayette College’ sign on the hillside.

  • Dr. Hurd responded that the steps and walkways must be lit for safety and security purposes and the College was not proposing anything that would make the hillside “look like Las Vegas.” She also asked that rumors be brought to the College’s attention quickly, before they get out of control.

  • A long discussion followed, making clear a distinction between lighting intended for ‘safety and security’ and lighting intended for ‘branding the College.’

  • A resident suggested that instead of a large sign, perhaps Pardee Hall could be lit in a beautiful way that would identify the College.

  • A resident pointed out that Easton’s sign ordinance does not permit either large or backlit signs.

  • A resident said that the massive sign on Buck Hall already identifies the College. Dr. Hurd described that sign as “interesting.”

  • A resident spoke in favor of a sign as well as lighting the steps.

  • Dr. Hurd assured the group that the community’s input will be sought before the College proceeds with any lighting or signage plan for the hillside. “We have to think about lighting together.”


Master Plan

  • Dr. Hurd stated that the Master Plan can only be a success if all concerned parties, including members of the community, ‘”take ownership.”

  • A timeline graphic showed that the completion of the Master Plan has been moved back from the end of 2023 to mid-2024.

  • A resident suggested that the Plan could play a role in ‘making Easton a college town.’

  • A resident felt that the Plan should ‘recognize the historic importance of the College and the neighborhood.’ Ms. Leighty responded she will do what she can.

  • Jared Mast from the Greater Easton Development Partnership suggested that the planners look into potential connections to regional trail networks.

  • A resident advised the planners to look into the potential of ‘greater shared knowledge through social media connectivity.’

  • A resident referred to a recent essay by a Lafayette student describing the parts of College Hill near the campus as a ‘dead zone’ when students are not present. Ms. Leighty has read this essay and will look into ways to ‘make the campus thrive year round.’

  • Bicycles as a means of transportation for students were discussed. Representative Freeman thought perhaps there could be ‘rental bikes with Lafayette logos’ around the campus or town.

  • Regarding further expansion; Bushkill Drive. A resident said that “the more the College expands into the neighborhood, the less it looks like a community.” Another resident said that the College should ‘stop coming into the neighborhood and expand onto Bushkill Drive.’ Another resident: ‘Bushkill is better than Metzgar (for expansion). It can help form a hard edge of the campus.’ Ms. Leighty: “We will look at Bushkill carefully.” She also said that consideration of the ‘campus edge is very preliminary’ and will be studied further. Mr. Jones noted that there are lots of natural springs at the rear of the Bushkill Drive property and that these might offer an opportunity for a nature preserve, especially if the College could acquire more land in the Bushkill Creek area.

  • Metzgar Field. Ms. Leighty reviewed the extensive development, mostly for athletics and recreation, being considered for Metzgar Field. Comment from Antonia Mitman (a founder of Historic Easton, Inc.): ‘Metzgar development negatively impacts traffic through College Hill. Consider investments in vacant downtown facilities instead.’ Planner Jones pointed out that ‘Metzgar is on Class 1A farm soil, which is under attack (from warehouses and other development, in Forks Township and elsewhere).  Other resident comments: ‘Use other areas for large scale recreation.’ ‘Traffic concerns on Cattell Street.’ ‘Farmland like Metzgar is very endangered.’ ‘Cattell Street should be ‘made safe for pedestrians.’

  • South Campus. A resident described the South Campus as ‘very under-programmed.’ Another proposed that South Campus be more developed as ‘a cultural hub.’

  • Further Master Plan studies. In discussing the planners’ concerns about on-campus activities and spaces, Ms. Leighty referenced historic preservation opportunities; ‘game day’ visitor experiences such as access, parking and food; improving the ‘quality, character and condition’ of student housing; examining student food service options, such as ‘grab & go’ kiosks.


Other Discussion

  • Dr. Hurd said that the College has purchased the Lafayette Inn and will keep it as an inn. Representative Freeman said it should remain an inn and suggested that Lafayette reach out to Northampton Community College’s hospitality program for guidance.

  • A resident pointed out that Lafayette’s 2018 settlement of a legal action required the College to create a partnership with local residents to discuss College matters on an on-going basis. The College has not done this. Dr. Hurd’s Chief-of-Staff, Dr. Nicole Eramo, said that she is tasked with addressing this over the summer.

Ms. Leighty said that the planners’ next steps are to explore concerns that have been addressed and report back to the College and the community.


Dr. Hurd introduced Board of Trustees Chair Robert Sell. The meeting adjourned.


Please address comments, questions and corrections to Paul Felder:

March 2023

Lafayette College is working on a new Master Plan, to be completed within the next year. The work is being led by a consultant, The SmithGroup, from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their first report to the College and the community, 'Summary of Findings & Observations,' can be seen below or in its original format by clicking on the 'Download pdf' button. Representatives from Preserve College Hill and the community will be meeting with Lafayette President Nicole Hurd in the coming weeks to provide further input and express concerns about this report. Please add your thoughts by clicking on the 'Comments' button.

Lafayette College Campus Master Plan

Summary of Findings & Observations

Emerging Themes: What we have learned

  • Better Leverage Current Assets

  • Support Lafayette's Culture and 'And'

  • Embrace a More Sustainable Mindset

  • Focus on Student Wellness and Success

  • Strengthen Both Local and Regional Connections

Community Context

Campus Connectivity

Key Takeaways

  • Arrival experience is strong in some locations but more limited in others

  • Opportunity to strengthen connections to City of Easton and explore additional local and regional partnerships

  • Accessibility needs improvement to provide a more inclusive campus environment

  • Bicycle and trail connections are currently limited, and non-existent to Metzgar Fields

Next Steps

  • Explore opportunities to better connect Campus to the City of Easton and Metzgar Fields

  • Identify strategies to enhance the vehicular arrival experience beyond College Ave

  • Consider ways to improve pedestrian safety across campus and to key adjacent off-campus destination

Campus Context

Campus Organization

Key Takeaways

  • Campus wayfinding is challenging in some perimeter locations, leading to feelings of being disconnected from core

  • Opportunity to enhance the first-year student experience particularly, around student life strategies

  • Potential to better utilize and connect campus open spaces

  • Desire to improve lighting and pedestrian safety across campus, particularly in perimeter areas

Next Steps

  • Consider ways to enhance campus as a "learning lab"

  • Identify key academic and student services supporting first-ear experience

  • Complete facilities condition Index and overlay with space utilization

  • Explore both near-term and long-term strategies to support campus expansion, enhancement and redevelopment

Campus Context

Infrastructure & Utilities

Key Takeaways

  • Primary heating and cooling equipment appears to be well maintained

  • On-site backup generation requires a hours-long, labor intensive, manual transfer

  • Electrical capacity on legacy 2400V campus distribution is limited

  • Policy differences created inequities related to occupant thermal comfort in res halls

  • Aging infrastructure is beyond its useful life at multiple sites

Next Steps

  • Evaluate existing loads served and system/distribution capacities

  • Determine impact on utility systems, particularly during future energy source transitions

  • Identify opportunities for distributed power sources via renewables/energy storage

  • Develop a priority matrix to replace critical infrastructure

Campus Context


Key Takeaways

  • Celebrate and build upon current sustainable initiatives and achievements

  • Align master plan with sustainable and resilience lessons students are learning in the classroom

  • Support goals and objectives of the Climate Action Plan 2.0 and also next iteration of the Climate Action Plan

  • Identify partners and opportunities for collaboration related to sustainability and resiliency

Next Steps

  • Identify and benchmark sustainability peer institutions to highlight trends and opportunities

  • Explore strategies to support the campus plan and prioritize solutions that align with the climate action plan

Facilities Focus


Key Takeaways

  • Space data is not up-to-date and has gaps; impacting ability to effectively manage

  • Lack of existing organized method for decision making to ensure alignment with institutional goals and holistic approach

  • Some classrooms and teaching labs are underutilized; opportunities exist for improvement or repurposing

Next Steps

  • Complete on-site verification of space inventory

  • Work with campus staff to resolve space data misalignments

  • Complete preliminary space needs analysis to serve as baseline for future space needs analysis

  • Develop future space needs

  • Assess locations of departments and programs for greater alignment

Facilities Focus


Key Takeaways

  • Limited seating, especially during Common Hour

  • Food feels too far away from housing

  • Overcrowding results in wait times

  • Storage is an issue

  • Students desire more weekend and late-night options; flexibility with meal plans

  • Interest to create a more sustainable dining experience

  • Limited digital screens, online ordering, and frictionless dining opportunities

Next Steps

  • Perform demand analysis and benchmarking

  • Develop alternative planning scenarios for dining redevelopment including distribution of venues, mis of services, hours, seating capacities and space requirements.

  • Create detailed space program for each component of the foodservice operations

  • Implement cross utilization of data to inform limited supplier request for proposal and negotiation.

Facilities Focus

Intercollegiate Athletics

Key Takeaways

  • Focus facilities and services on more holistic support mechanisms around student - athlete success

  • Enhance game-day experience for spectators, including parking, field access, on-site restrooms and dining options for events

  • Kirby Sports Center: Recapture underutilized space for expanded indoor athletic training and support

  • Metzgar Fields 

  1. Priority to expand and better support all D-1 sports​

  2. Create a centralized, on-site sports performance and athletic training facility

Next Steps

  • Further assess gaps in current facilities around physical, emotional, academic and social wellbeing

  • Metzgar Fields

  1. Identify site for future lacrosse stadium and team facility​

  2. Determine location for centralized athletic success center and campus green

  3. Prioritize near-term infrastructure improvements

  4. Explore options to relocate indoor track to expand arena for basketball and volleyball

Facilities Focus

Campus Recreation

Key Takeaways

  • Current recreation facilities and services based primarily on student demand; facilities and services should reflect baseline industry standards for small colleges

  • Metzgar Fields: Provide quality turf fields to support growth in club sports

  • Kirby Sports Center: Recapture under-utilizes space for growth in group exercise, club sports and student organizations

  • Campus: Desire for more outdoor recreation space for open play and intramurals

Next Steps

  • Identify cross-campus partners and spaces to support expanded wellness service around nutrition, academics and student life

  • Metzgar Fields: Explore options for a lighted, turf "super field" for club sports and intramural play

  • Identify space to support more resilient recreation with multipurpose fitness studios supporting functional fitness, group exercise, dance, wrestling, etc.

  • Explore potential for use of Sullivan Courts for open recreation, including tennis, pickleball and futsal

Master Plan Schedule

May: Guiding Principles & Futures Framework

July - August: Alternatives Workshop

September: Preliminary Campus Plan Review

November: Revised Preliminary Campus Plan

December: Final Campus Master Plan

March 2023
Update Feb 17, 2023

February 17, 2023


Friends & Neighbors,

The community website Easton Conservation Districts has been updated to include notices like this and other news updating the ongoing Lafayette College Master Plan process. Please click on these links to stay up-to-date:


  • Lafayette’s Strategic Plan. The link above will allow you to RSVP to attend a special College Hill/Easton Community Session on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 7-8:30 p.m., Marlo Room, Farinon Center. A big local turnout would be very helpful. The Strategic Plan is the College’s effort to determine an academic direction for the coming years. New programs, student outreach efforts and other campus goals will be discussed. (You may recall that in 2016, when the College announced its McCartney Street Expansion Plan, there was considerable talk of a “Need Blind” tuition program. That hasn’t been discussed in recent years, as far as we know. The meeting on Feb. 28 might be a good time to ask College officials what happened to that effort.)

  • Lafayette Master Plan. The Master Plan is being developed in tandem with the Strategic Plan. Master planning involves specific construction projects that may be implemented in the coming years. Last fall, the College hired an experienced Michigan firm, SmithGroup, to lead the master plan process. We understand that the director of that effort, Kevin King, has recently left the firm. We’ll provide an update of where the process stands in the coming weeks. Meantime, some of SmithGroup’s local team will be given a briefing next week about the history of the College’s 2016-2023 expansion program, including the zoning changes, community opposition and other events that played out during the McCartney Street expansion process.

  • McCartney Street Property Tax Update. When the College announced its expansion program in 2016, a joint Lafayette/City of Easton statement was made that the new mixed-use buildings would only pay County, City and School District property taxes equivalent to what the existing properties on the site (mostly small houses) were paying. Many neighbors objected to this, and in 2018, the College finally agreed that it would pay full property taxes on its new, reassessed McCartney Street building. That building opened in 2020, but apparently, it was never reassessed. By the beginning of 2022, it was discovered that the College was only paying about $500 a year in County taxes, as if the property was a vacant lot. City and school district taxes were commensurately minimal. After vigorous inquiries by neighbors, the property was finally reassessed, and in 2023, it appears that the total County, City and School District taxes to be paid on the new building will be nearly $200,000. This is about forty times what was paid the last two years. Once again, the vigilance and voices of our citizens have proven enormously beneficial to our community.

  • College Avenue Overlook improvements. Another item of concern brought to the College’s attention in 2022 by College Hill residents was the shabby and overgrown condition of the College Avenue property where Lafayette demolished four historic homes a few years ago. Once again, the concerns of College Hill residents have gotten results. A preliminary landscaping plan provided to us by Lafayette’s administration is included at the end of this update.​​​​​​​​​​​​

  • McCartney Street Mixed-Use Building, Phase 2. The location is the currently closed parking lot between March St. and Clinton Terrace. Construction is expected to start soon. Our understanding is that a use for the first floor commercial area has not yet been determined: community input may be sought for this. The upper floors will be student dorms.

  • West Ward Historic Conservation District. Work on this was suspended during the COVID epidemic. If there is sufficient community interest, efforts to identify potential demonstration historic conservation district sites in the West Ward may begin this year, probably after any contested elections for Mayor and City Council seats. A draft of the most recent proposal is on our website. 


Please feel free to use the ‘Comment’ section at, or send questions or comments to me at


Paul Felder

Overlook Landscape Plan.png
November 30, 2022

November 30, 2022


Friends & Neighbors,


The public input phase of Lafayette College's proposed new Master Plan began with a November 30 on-campus meeting with Kevin King, Principal of SmithGroup, a large planning and design firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It's encouraging to note that much of the planning process will be posted and updated online.

Here's the link to follow it: 


(This website will also connect you to a questionnaire asking about how you use the campus.)


The most important take-away from the meeting: Mr. King repeatedly expressed his planning firm's interest in getting input from College Hill community members as well as from the Lafayette, Easton and Lehigh Valley communities. Mr. King has invited residents to send their thoughts directly to him:


Please use the subject line "Sharing ideas about the Lafayette Campus Plan" in your email. 

I'll summarize his remarks and give you some of the comments made by residents at the meeting, including my own:


Mr. King began the evening by briefly outlining his firm's approach to the planning process. Main points:

  • The planning process is expected to take a year, and perhaps last into 2024. Everything is open to discussion: 'blue-sky now as much as possible.'

  • The Master Plan will be coordinated with Lafayette's Strategic Plan (not yet begun), which will focus on the academic future of the College (e.g. new programs, perhaps a different emphasis on existing programs, etc.)

  • One aspect of the plan will be to look at the condition of all the buildings on campus.

  • He seemed very interested in the potential of developing the Metzgar field site, which is 70% vacant.

  • He said that the occupants of the Simon Center on campus will be relocated, and it is not clear how the existing facility will be used; suggestions are welcomed. (He also noted that the interior of Pardee Hall is expected to undergo a major renovation.)

  • He ended his presentation by saying 'it is important for us to understand how community members use the campus,' and invited comments. 


Resident questions and comments included the following:

  • Is enrollment expected to grow? President Hurd: 'There is no appetite to grow.' She noted that facilities such as the library and the student center are at capacity, and she expressed concern that the character of the school could change with increased enrollment: 'We'll lose something if we get too big.'

  • Will the College be acquiring more properties in the College Hill neighborhood? Mr. King: 'I don't think the president has an appetite for acquisition.'

  • When the median strip was built on High Street, neighbors lost their primary means to park near the Williams Art Center for events that many of us support. How about getting rid of that strip? (It wasn't mentioned but could have been that the neighbors also lost valuable visitors' parking for Skillman Library when the strip was installed.)

  • Lafayette acknowledges that it has a dorm shortage, yet by closing fraternities and moving faculty offices into them, it lost a lot of student housing. How about using some of these beautiful buildings for housing as they were intended? (President Hurd might have taken this as a plea to restore fraternities, which it wasn't.)

  • Could the College acquire the car wash at the bottom of the hill? (It doesn't seem to be for sale.)

  • The College's property along the Bushkill has a lot of potential. (I was a bit surprised that Mr. King seemed more interested in Metzgar Field, which is far from the campus, than he did in the Bushkill site adjacent to it. But it's still very early in the process.)

  • The relocation of some Lafayette offices to the downtown, as well as the entire development of the South Campus, were very well received. It might also be a valuable community service, and good for participating students, to consider establishing a presence in the West Ward and the South Side. (West Ward might be a priority because of its proximity to the campus.)


To the dismay of some, I'm sure, I expressed a number of concerns:

  • I appreciated Mr. King's comment that 'it is important for us to understand how community members use the campus,' but I suggested he also turn it around and try to understand how the College impacts and uses the community. Given that it owns more than 150 properties on College Hill and that hundreds of students live off-campus and use neighborhood stores and parking spaces, the impact on the neighborhood is significant. I mentioned that the previous Lafayette Master Plan did not refer to neighborhood needs (or to the Easton or Lehigh Valley Comprehensive Plans), and I hoped that the new plan would take all of these things into account. (The questionnaire I referenced above is an example of my concern: it only addresses the way the campus is used, not the impact of the College on where we live.)

  • I was disappointed that Mr. King's introduction never mentioned the words 'sustainability' or 'historic preservation.' He apologized for not talking about sustainability (which I saw later is featured prominently on his firm's website). He said that landscaping on campus will be carefully studied and that among many other sustainability concerns reducing carbon emissions will be a major consideration in the plan. (He did not mention Lafayette's off-campus properties in these remarks.) 

  • Regarding historic preservation, Mr. King said the planners would look at all the historic buildings on campus. Again, he did not mention off-campus historic buildings. I intend to continue bringing to the planners' attention the importance of looking at AND DEVELOPING A PRESERVATION PLAN for all the historic buildings the College owns on and off-campus, and I hope many others will, as well.)  


Overall, I thought the meeting was encouraging, primarily because the planning process seems to be conceived of as gathering input from all stakeholders (including members of the community) BEFORE a plan is formulated. This of course is the opposite of the previous administration's approach to planning. Mr. King's apparent openness to new ideas and to learning about the community in which he's working are grounds for optimism.


My concerns, as noted above, are his focus on the College's campus and needs to the exclusion of the impact of the College on the community. However, this is very early in the process, and by asking for our input, SmithGroup is suggesting that it can expand its thinking to develop a plan that will truly encompass the needs of "College AND Community."


I put "College AND Community" in quotes because it was one of the mantras that was included in Mr. King's presentation. He doesn't yet know the ramifications of that statement but he seems open to learning what they are. I INTEND TO SEND MR. KING A SUMMARY OF MY THOUGHTS AND CONCERNS, AND I HOPE YOU WILL CONSIDER DOING THE SAME. I also hope you'll feel free to echo some of my points, to disagree with them and/or to express other thoughts and concerns you may have. Again, please be in touch with:


And have a wonderful holiday,

Paul Felder

October 11, 2022

October 11, 2022

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Below are my notes from a meeting held at Lafayette College on October 11, 2022, with several dozen community members in attendance. Major points discussed were as follows:

1.     The College has hired the Smith Group to develop a master plan. Dr. Hurd stated that the Smith Group will host a focus group for community members to have input into the plan. “I’m committed with my whole heart that this will be an inclusive process. . .You [community members] can participate as much or as little as you want.” (Background: Lafayette’s previous plan, c. 2010, was removed from the College website a few years ago, because the proposed McCartney Street expansion program and other Lafayette projects were not in conformance with it. Since then, the College has operated without a master plan. Dr. Hurd has said that no major new programs will be initiated until there is a new, approved master plan.)

2.     At the same time it is developing a master plan, the College has begun a “strategic planning” process that will focus on academic issues such as the potential creation of new fields of study, academic priorities, etc. Dr. Hurd: “We feel a little rudderless.” There is no end date for this process.

3.     Hurd was reminded that in the 2018 legal agreement with residents that allowed the McCartney project to proceed, the College was to form an ongoing “Easton Community Partners Committee” (such as used to exist before being dissolved by former president Alison Byerly). No such committee exists. Dr. Hurd said that the College is working on putting together some form of ongoing structure. She agreed that this should be ongoing and separate from any community input on the master or strategic plans. She recognizes that College Hill, Easton and the Lehigh Valley all have different needs that should be addressed. The College will send out a letter of interest to residents who might wish to serve on such a committee or committees.

4.     Lafayette will soon post a job seeking a ‘Director of Community Relationships.’

5.     The McCartney building that opened in 2020 was to be Phase 1 of the campus enrollment expansion announced in 2016. Although enrollment has increased by a few hundred students since then, there are no current plans for future enrollment growth. Dr. Hurd said she didn’t think there was any current “appetite for growth” and that she’d be “floored” if the planning process led to any calls for aggressive growth.

6.     This winter, the College intends to begin construction of Phase 2 (McCartney Street between March and Clinton Terrace) simply to address current dormitory overcrowding issues, including the modular ‘barracks’ assembled on-campus a few years ago. (Background: originally, the expansion was to be in four phases: two buildings on McCartney Street, one on Cattell—which was scrapped after much community opposition; the site is now the small park across from Wawa—and a dorm on campus to replace Watson Courts, which would be demolished. That project has also been shelved, at least for now.)

7.     The Phase 2 building on McCartney will have retail on the first floor. Community input will be sought to help determine what type of retail might be included. (Background: the original plan called for a campus and community health center on the first floor. That concept has apparently gone away.)

8.     There will be an open house on November 18 for the new Portlock Black Cultural Center on McCartney Street. Details to be announced. (Background: the 2018 legal agreement required that the College relocate a historic Clinton Terrace building design by noted Easton architect William Michler. That building was scheduled for demolition, along with the then existing Portlock Black Cultural Center, as part of the Phase 2 dorm project. The College did move the Michler building, unnecessarily demolishing five other historic buildings in the process. All of that planning happened before Dr. Hurd became Lafayette president.)

9.     Hurd was repeatedly asked about all the historic buildings the College has demolished in recent years (for the two McCartney projects, the Portlock Center, along College Avenue, behind Williams Art Center, etc.) She said at one point: “I’m not afraid to apologize. It will not be that way while I’m here.”

10.   Hurd was asked if the College will continue to purchase properties in the College Hill neighborhood. She said it might, but only “to house our faculty.” There are no plans to demolish anything. (Background: according to an October 7, 2022 article in the student newspaper, The Lafayette, the College owns more than 120 properties—17% of all properties—off campus on College Hill. Since Dr. Hurd has been president, we’re aware of only one property purchased by the College: across the street from Kirby gym.)

11.   Hurd expressed concern that traffic on Cattell Street is hazardous. She recognized that because it is a Penn Dot road and because Forks Township is experiencing so much growth it will not be easy to resolve Cattell’s problems, but she is hoping to address them. She said it should not serve as a barrier isolating students from the rest of the College Hill neighborhood. She remarked several times that as resident, she wants to become part of the College Hill neighborhood.

12.   Hurd and several residents commented on the growth options available to the College going forward: on-campus, South Campus, Metzgar Field, Bushkill Drive, vacant buildings downtown, the West Ward, etc. Development downtown and/or in the West Ward could be of great potential benefit to both the community and Lafayette students. (Background: the Easton Comprehensive Plan 2035 calls for “Lafayette to have more physical presence outside of College Hill.” Both the College and the City ignored this during the McCartney Street expansion project.)

Comment from residents:

  • ‘There’s been a lot of damage done [by the College] to the College Hill neighborhood.’


  • ‘Anything that contributes to the historic district is historic: this applies to the campus itself. . .[for example,] Hogg Hall was the site of the conference that led to the creation of the Appalachian Trail. . . There needs to be a Lafayette College Preservation Plan.’


  • ‘Cattell Street should not be a DMZ (separating students from residents).’ Dr. Hurd: ‘Cattell Street should be made more attractive.’


  • ‘The College should consider creating a historic preservation major.’ Dr. Hurd: ‘[Right now] we don’t even have a campus architect.’


  • ‘The College should integrate contemporary with historic buildings [rather than simply demolish historic buildings].


  • ‘This community was built on values’ [that should be respected by the College].

I wrote in my meeting notes: “Architecture not decoration.” I’ve no idea what this was referring to, but it seems like a good idea.

Two comments unrelated to the meeting:

1.     I’ve never really known who the driving force was behind the College’s 2016 plan to expand onto McCartney Street and change the City’s zoning to accommodate it. Dr. Byerly? Vice President of Finance Roger Demareski? The City itself?  Lafayette’s Board of Trustees? The role of the Board of Trustees remains undefined and undiscussed. At some point, the community will need to find out if the Trustees are in favor of a cooperative relationship with the community or if—as has been the case since at least 2014—they will choose to ignore it when it comes to developing plans and implementing policies.


2.     As many of you know, last spring a College Hill resident began asking the College why it wasn’t paying full property taxes on the McCartney Street mixed-use building, as it had promised to do. It turned out that Northampton County had reassessed the property once it became a vacant lot, but not after construction was completed two years ago. After the question was raised, the property was finally reassessed. Going forward, we expect Lafayette to be billed and to pay the nearly $200,000 per year it should owe the County, City and School District.


Paul Felder

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